Company cards offer the easiest way to manage spending in your business – but are credit, debit or expense cards best? Find out in our comprehensive guide.
Does your business need company cards?
Any company card is better than cash for managing your business expenses. But some will save you more time – and give you more control – than others.
Watch the video to learn how smart company cards could help your business.Get started
How company cards can help your business
Cash isn’t king when it comes to business spending. Using cash means either asking staff to pay for expenses themselves – then reimbursing them weeks later – or handing out advances. Both are inefficient, acting as a drag on morale and productivity. That’s why more and more businesses are using company cards instead, enabling them to:
- Increase staff happiness
Paying out of pocket on behalf of their employer is a big ask – especially as reimbursement processes can be lengthy and time-consuming
- Simplify business travel
Business trips can see significant spending. Giving travellers a dedicated card makes managing it straightforward
- Save time
Processing expense reports is an arduous task, for you and your staff. With company cards, you can do away with them for good
- Go online
You’re missing out on the benefits of digital banking and online payments aren’t if you’re still relying on cash for your business expenses
About company cards
What are company cards?
Company cards are how the majority of businesses manage their daily outgoings. Just like the card you get with your personal bank account, they enable managers and staff to pay for entertainment, day-to-day expenses, online purchases, subscriptions and more – without the hassle of bank transfers or using cash.
Some companies only use one card, for centralised spending. Others give them to senior staff members that they trust to spend responsibly. In recent years, the rise of prepaid accounts has enabled thousands of businesses to share the benefits of company cards with every employee.
Three types of corporate cards
There are countless different company cards you can use in your business, but they come in three main types:
- Debit cards give you access the funds in your primary company account
- Credit cards give you a set limit to spend each month, which you pay off after
- Prepaid cards enable you to set up individual accounts in your company for any person, team or department that needs one
Some businesses stick to one type, while others might use a mix of all three. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
Company debit cards
A company debit card gives you direct access to the account that it is linked to – usually your primary business account. They enable you to withdraw cash, spend money in stores and complete online transactions.
Company debit cards are great for accessing your business bank account, but they’re a poor option for managing all your spending. For one thing, they come with a severe risk of misuse. There are few limits or controls on spending, so if a debit card gets into the wrong hands, it could wreak havoc on your finances. That means giving more than a few cards out to staff is ill advised.
They also offer little transparency. It’s often difficult to tell who’s spent what, or keep track of daily transactions.
Company credit cards
Company credit cards work just like standard credit cards. There’s an agreed limit on each account, which dictates how much the holder can spend each month. Then once the month is over, you have to pay off the debt.
Spending on a credit card is separate from your main account, so they are seen as safer than debit cards. However, they let holders drive up debt, which can lead to problems down the line. And like debit cards, tracking activity is often slow and cumbersome – you might have to wait for a monthly statement to see how much you owe.
Plus, giving out credit cards can be tricky. The recipient often has to pass a credit check, and small businesses without credit histories may find it hard to get started.
Prepaid company expense cards
Prepaid expense cards solve the problems brought about by debit and credit cards. With prepaid cards, you create individual accounts for any person, team or department in the business that needs one. You then top each one up with funds for spending, keeping them fully siloed from your primary account.
Plus, prepaid cards come with advanced features that give you additional control and insight. For example, Soldo enables you to track transactions in real time, including details of who’s spent what. And they automate the entire expense process, so your team no longer has to hold on to receipts for HMRC.
Since we started using Soldo, it’s been such a relief not to have to regularly email or phone the banks to ask for our credit card limits to be raised.
I love Soldo’s flexibility – it’s so easy to maintain and everything is in real time. I can set rules, decide who’s allowed to do what, set up automatic instant funding, budgeting, and disable particular expense categories or geographical locations.
How can prepaid company cards be used?
Company cards for business expenses
Small expenses can add up to major hassle for you and your team when handled using cash. Staff will have to pay out of their own funds, then keep the receipt so they can fill out an expense form and begin the process of getting reimbursed.
Adopting company cards makes it easier for your employees, but credit and debit cards only go so far. Staff won’t have to pay out of their pocket, but will still have to keep receipts so you can reconcile transactions at the end of the month. With prepaid cards, you’ll be able to instantly see who’s made each transaction – and with Soldo, the entire business expense process is automated.
Company cards for travel expenses
If you have team members that go on regular business trips, then company cards mean they won’t have to pay out of their pocket whenever they incur travel expenses. Instead, they can use their card to pay for everything – which also saves you time trawling through their expense reports.
With prepaid cards, you can use advanced controls to set individual budgets for transport, fuel, accommodation, food and more. And with Soldo’s automated expenses, staff won’t come back from trips with a suitcase full of receipts.
You’ll want to pay attention to the currency conversion fees on each card though. Soldo’s are fixed at 1%. View Soldo’s pricing here.
Company cards for fuel expenses
Managing fuel expenses with company cards is much simpler than asking employees to add up their mileage and file a report. Instead, you give them a card that they can use to fill up whenever they need.
Some businesses use dedicated company fuel cards. Like prepaid expense accounts, these silo spending from your primary funds – but they can only be used at permitted petrol stations, and only on car-related costs.
You can use prepaid accounts to set a specific budget for fuel, without forcing employees to carry another card for their day-to-day expenses.
Company cards for subscription management
If your team uses a few subscriptions – such as for learning resources, SaaS tools and more – then prepaid company cards will save you time and hassle.
With debit and credit cards, trying to find out who signed up to a specific subscription can be extremely time consuming, often involving asking everyone in the business whether they recognise the details from your statement. With prepaid accounts, it’s just a matter of logging on to your online payments console and seeing which account is linked to the transaction.
Company cards for online payments
Prepaid company cards also give you total transparency and control over online spending. You can even set times when each account is active, so there’s no chance of misuse outside of company hours.
Soldo users can create virtual cards for online payments. These come with all the benefits of standard prepaid accounts, but you don’t have to wait for a plastic card to arrive. So you can instantly create a new card whenever you need one.
Company cards for employee benefits
There’s a wide range of benefits you might want to offer staff – from a dedicated learning and development fund to covering gym costs to after-work drinks on a Friday. Managing and tracking these costs can be tricky using debit and credit cards. You might have to ask everyone to send you their preferred learning resources so you can buy them on their behalf, or track down the credit card after a staff night out.
With prepaid company cards, how you can delegate benefit spending however you see fit. You could give each staff member their own account with an allocated benefits budget, for instance. Or, top-up senior employees’ cards with extra funds for treating their teams.
Why choose Soldo's company cards?
Our Pro plan is perfect for small businesses. We don’t charge for domestic transactions or topping up accounts
Soldo comes with a native Xero integration – and exporting transactions to other accounting solutions takes just two clicks
You can track activity on any Soldo account as and when it occurs, including payment details
When your staff take a photo of their receipt with the Soldo app, it will automatically capture the transaction – there’s no paperwork needed
Soldo’s cards are provided by Mastercard®. They’re secure, flexible and accepted everywhere
See which individuals, teams and departments in your company are spending most. Identify trends and uncover actionable insights
What’s the best company card for my business?
The best company card for your business will depend on how many accounts you need to give out, what features you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to pay in fees. If you’re looking to hand out cards to more than one or two employees, then prepaid cards are probably your best option – they come with advanced controls and tracking, and silo staff funds from your primary account.
Soldo’s prepaid accounts also come with a number of extra features to help you manage spending: including real-time tracking, automated expenses and more. Domestic transactions are free, and our FX fee is fixed at 1%.
What’s the best way to give my employees company cards?
Prepaid expense cards are undoubtedly the best option for giving out company cards to employees. With prepaid cards, you decide how much each person can spend, as well as where they can use their card. So you’re controlling expenditure before a penny is spent. You can also track transactions as they occur, instead of having to wait for a monthly statement.
Company debit and credit cards will create additional unnecessary admin when you hand them out to more team members. Prepaid accounts keep you in control, and save you time – whether you’ve given out a handful, or a hundred.
Is a company card a credit card?
Some company cards are credit cards, some aren’t. Credit cards are just one of the three main types of company account – the other two are debit and prepaid cards.
Using credit cards for employee expenses comes with a number of significant drawbacks. Staff can drive up debt, with each account’s credit limit acting as the only control on spending. You won’t find out about transactions until days or weeks after they’ve been made. And often, it’s tough to determine who has made a particular payment.
Lots of businesses and organisations are turning to prepaid cards instead. They solve all these issues and come with additional features to help you manage spending. Learn more about prepaid cards.
What do company cards cost?
It depends on what type of company card it is, and who’s providing it. But you’ll usually pay a monthly fee, plus other costs for transactions and payments. If you choose a company credit card, you’ll also pay interest on any outstanding debts. The range of fees can make it hard to calculate the total cost of a new account.
Soldo’s prepaid cards come with a low monthly fee and no charges for domestic transactions or topping up funds. See our full pricing information.
Can I use my company card for personal use?
There are no laws against using a company credit card for personal payments, but there are several reasons why you probably want to avoid doing it. The main one being that most credit card providers don’t permit personal use in their terms, so they might block future activity.
Business bank accounts are intended to keep company expenses separate from personal spending. Using a company credit card to buy something for yourself undermines that.